Paul Lawrie returned to the scene of golf’s ultimate comeback at Carnoustie as tickets for the 147th Open taking place from July 15-22 next year went on general sale.
The Aberdeen golfer won the coveted Claret Jug in unforgettable fashion in 1999, closing a ten-shot gap over leader Jean van de Velde in a gripping final day to force a three-way play-off with the Frenchman and American Justin Leonard, who won the 1997 Open at Royal Troon.
His story has gone down in golfing folklore. Lawrie required to progress through 36 holes of Final Qualifying at Downfield to take his place in the field.
After carding a 67 in the final round, he watched anxiously as van de Velde triple-bogeyed the 72nd hole to set-up a three-way, four-hole play-off from which Lawrie emerged victorious.
On his return, he walked the 18th and relived the moment when, from 221 yards, he struck a 4-iron that finished 4ft from the closing hole.
“To be crowned the Champion Golfer of the Year is an honour and privilege that lasts a lifetime,” said Lawrie. “It was a magical feeling to return to Carnoustie and go back to that exact spot where I hit that 4-iron.
“I was delighted to see the greenkeeper had not only marked it out for me but put the pin in the exact same position as it was in 1999.
“It was a victory that literally changed my life. I was a very good player before the Open but, all of a sudden, I was the Open champion – a big difference. People forget I had to qualify to get in.
“Carnoustie has always been a course close to my heart as a native of nearby Aberdeen and it is a special place to return to as a former champion. It really is the ultimate test for any professional golfer and the world’s best are in for a real challenge next year. I look forward to taking on that test again.”
Tickets for the 147th Open at Carnoustie are on general sale NOW at early season prices. Visit TheOpen.com/Tickets for full details.